Mass Media and American Democracy
790: 345 - Fall 2011
Class Meeting: ARH 100: Monday and Wednesday 5:35pm – 6:55pm
Instructor: Mark Major
Office Hours: By Appointment (Hickman Hall 312)
: This course is designed to introduce students to the role of the mass media in American politics and
society. We focus primarily on the news media, as it is the dominant medium for political communication. This
course analyzes the interactive dynamics of the news media and the political system. Theoretical concerns include
the type of information systems necessary for a healthy and vibrant democratic culture. We also examine the
relationship between the historical development of mass media and its impact on democratic communication. Other
topics addressed include media bias, framing, race, labor, gender, and US foreign policy. Finally, we are in the midst
of a profound transformation of the news media – largely influenced by the Internet – and understanding the
implications of the changing nature of the news provide insight for the future of American democracy.
The overwhelming majority of readings are posted on Sakai - https://sakai.rutgers.edu/portal
Please note that readings with Internet links are not posted on Sakai and some recommended readings may not be
available on Sakai. Please see me if interested in obtaining the recommended listings.
1) W. Lance Bennett,
News: The Politics of Illusion
ed (Longman, 2010)
2) Matthew Hindman,
The Myth of Digital Democracy
(Princeton University Press, 2009)
3) Robert W. McChesney,
The Problem of the Media:
US Communication Politics in the 21
Review Press, 2004)
W. Lance Bennett, Regina Lawrence, and Steven Livingston,
When the Press Fails: Political Power and the
News Media from Iraq to Katrina
(University of Chicago Press, 2007)
5) Robert M. Entman,
Projections of Power: Framing News, Public Opinion, and US Foreign Policy
Chicago Press, 2004).
6) Jeffrey E. Cohen,
The Presidency in the Era of 24-Hour News
(Princeton University Press, 2008)
A. Class participation and quizzes – 20 pts.
It is extremely important to be prepared for class. The quality of the course is dependent on the quality of your
preparation and engagement. You are expected to complete the assigned readings before class and take part in class
discussions. There will be five random open-note quizzes throughout the semester; I will count the top four scores.
The quizzes will be given at the beginning of class, if you show up late you will not be allowed to take the quiz.
Extra credit opportunities will be given as well but